Cites unnamed sources familiar with the investigation, the WSJ reported that despite the steps that included turning off an automated flight control system, the pilots could not regain control of the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
CNN has not been able to confirm details of the report.
Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration agency grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes, saying it had identified similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia six months earlier
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed the morning
Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia on October 29 after taking off from Jakarta, Kenya, killing all 1
57 people on board.
Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued an " Operations Manual Bulletin "advising airline operators how to address incorrect cockpit readings. It pointed out airlines to existing flight crew procedures to address the circumstances where there is erroneous input from an AOA (sensor angle) sensor, "and Boeing statement said.
If confirmed, the findings reported in the Wall Street Journal suggest that following the emergency procedures in the Boeing Handbook may not have been sufficient enough to prevent a crash.
The reported findings come from a preliminary report that is required by the investigating authority to be produced within 30 days of an incident.
Other reported preliminary findings from the data retrieved from the Ethiopian Airlines jet's black box suggest that the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) activated before the crash.
The MCAS is a system that automatically lowers the nose of the plane when it receives information from its external angle of attack (AOA) sensors that the aircraft is flying too slowly or steeply, and at risk of stalling. the Lion Air crash, the MCAS forced the plane's nose down more than 24 times before it eventually hit the water, according to a preliminary investigation by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, which also found the system responding to a defective sensor
US pilots who fly the Boeing 737 Max have also registered complaints about how the jet has performed in flight , according to a federal database accessed by CNN
Investigators have pointed out whether pilots have had sufficient training with the system.
According to Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam, pilots moving to Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from older 737 models were required only to undertake a short computer-based training program prescribed by Boeing and approved by the FAA
GebreMariam also said the flight simulator that pilots trained to learn how to fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane did not replicate the MCAS automated feature that crash investigators are scrutinizing
Pilots' union spokesmen for Southwest and American said the self-administered course – – which one pilot told CNN he took on his iPad – highlighted the differences between the Max 8 and older 737s, but did not explain the MCAS feature
Boeing said he is working on a software fix for the 737 MAX jets but the FAA said on Monday that the company has completed "additional work"
"The FAA expects to receive Boeing's final package of its software enhancement over coming weeks for FAA approve wave, "the agency said in a statement. "Boeing has been identified and appropriately addressed by all the relevant issues."
On Tuesday, a new Senate investigation was launched after whistleblower reports raised questions about whether the FAA inspectors who reviewed the Boeing 737 MAX for certification were properly trained.
CNN's Gregory Wallace, David Shortell, Oren Liebermann and Thom Patterson contributed.